Double Take on Proximity Butterfly’s Reprieve

We’re a bit late on this review mostly due to a hectic schedule and me getting ready for yet another overseas trip but I really wanted to get this in ahead of the Proximity Butterfly show at Yugong Yishan tonight (July 2).

‘daze on Reprieve:

I’ve been keeping both eyes on this band for a while now as one of the most exciting bands in China that is not based in Beijing. I’ve quite enjoyed their previous records, especially Arcana! The latest one, from 2008, failed to grab me as much despite some interesting sounds. How would the new release measure up?
Much was made about this record’s connection to the Sichuan Earthquake and it’s evident in the dark edges that surround pretty much every song. The intro kicks things off with an dreamy instrumental that reminds me of the Tibetain song of the dead, and even if it’s not, it sets up the field for what’s to come.
Tiptoes of Shiva, the following number, is haunting! I have had the song stuck in my head for a few days already. It’s easily the strongest number as far as i’m concerned with great vocals, interesting progressions and tempo changes. I can’t wait to check it out live.
Aggress is the other song that stands out! Extremely heavy with unmistakable influences from early 70s hard rock and metal, akin to Sabath and Maiden… It’s freaking heavy, violent with extremely distinctive vocals. The other songs, while all good, fail to stand out as much in my opinion. That’s to be attributed to how good the other songs above are.
The song Earthquake is a bit baffling when you just get the audio. It’s a weird cacophony of unrelated sounds, heavy beats, humming and more…. I’m assuming this one will stand out live as well.
Overall, one hell of a good record, befitting my expectations of the band and probably the best non-Beijing release of the year so far.

Ruby on Reprieve:

Two new CDs arrived in my hands this week and both are distinctly related, yet sound so different. The first “The Harbour Union” a blues/country collection Christchurch musicians put together to support rebuilding the city after it’s multiple devastating earthquakes over the last 9 months. The second “Reprieve: The Auspicious Occurrences of Dr. Chen’s Past Lives” a concept album by Chengdu psychedelic rockers Proximity Butterfly based around the Wenchuan earthquake of 2008.

To say I’ve been waiting for this album and the China tour that goes along with it could be a slight understatement! I discovered Proximity Butterfly at Midi in May 2010 and since I stumbled across their 2008 album ‘The Antikythera Mechanism‘ in C-Rock, It’s become one of my most listened to Chinese albums. This show has been marked in my calendar as unmissable for months now, I hope my parents understand my ditching them for one night (yes, I did offer to take them!)

How to describe Proximity Butterfly’s sound to those who’ve never heard them? Passionate, ethereal, hard rock, I’ve heard them compared to Pink Floyd and The Mars Volta, but I think also they sound a little like Wolfmother, especially the song ‘Tiptoes of Shiva‘. ‘Reprieve‘ is a psychdelic journey through the eyes of those in Sichuan during the earthquake, from eerie rumblings of ‘Ruin‘, to the soulful wailing of ‘Sickness‘, and the thunderous riffs of ‘Agress‘. Lead singer Joshua’s soaring vocals and clever lyrics lead the listener though the story. I like how this album includes Chinese lyrics as well as English, and also traditional Chinese instruments begin the journey before the quake on ‘The Thousand Faces‘. The band produced and mixed the album themselves in true indie fashion and have created an exceptional follow up to ‘The Antikythera Mechanism‘. I’m looking forward to seeing them live on Saturday!

I think Ruby hit the nail a bit more than I did on this one.. never been huge into experimental psychedelic rock but i can still recognize a good record when i hear it. and this is one hell of a good record! The Jamming feelings make me wish they had been paired together with Wu & The Side Effects or The Amazing Insurance Salesmen for tonight’s show. It would have been exhaustingly memorable!

Come out and check PB out tonight at Yugong Yishan alongside Rustic and Bedstar. Doors open at 9:00 pm

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1 Response

  1. jtdj says:

    Always appreciate your reviews, just honest opinion, easy to read and no snobbery.

    If your curious, here’s Dan Shapiro’s Take on the album